Thursday, February 2, 2017

Universal Public Education and the Common Good | janresseger

Universal Public Education and the Common Good | janresseger:

Universal Public Education and the Common Good

President Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos to be our next U.S. Secretary of Education has been a wake up call.
You may disagree with some of the particulars raised by the Senators who have been debating the DeVos nomination, but the hearings have diminished talk about the smaller issues and highlighted one thing: our universal public education in the United States is a primary civic institution of great value.
In Tuesday’s hearing, when the Senators on the HELP Committee took a vote and decided to send the DeVos nomination on to the full Senate for consideration, just about everybody talked about the public outcry—the volume of phone calls, e-mails, unusual requests for meetings, crowds and rallies pushing the Senators to protect public education. Many Senators declared their insistence that our education secretary at least value the public schools, understand the terms of the debate that has been sweeping around public education now for two decades, and realize that the U.S. Department of Education’s fundamental mission is protecting the rights of children who have historically been marginalized. It became clear that the party loyalty of some of the Republicans on the committee was being tested by the outcry of their constituents, and it became clearer yesterday afternoon when Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski promised they will vote against the DeVos confirmation when the full Senate votes.
The federal policy debates about public schools over the past twenty years have been largely shaped by our society’s computerized capacity to produce and analyze huge data sets—the test scores produced by the mandates of No Child Left Behind—and a drive by many policy makers to increase schools’ accountability for the test scores of their students. Data have demonstrated that schools in poor communities, on average, do not “produce” the same kind of high test scores as the schools in very wealthy enclaves, and the Bush and Obama Universal Public Education and the Common Good | janresseger:

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